In 2014, ACFODE identified four secondary schools in Apacdistrict, and inducted their teachers and students on negative socio-cultural practices. After the training, the students formed gender-based violence clubs, to advocate equal opportunities for bothboys and girls in schools and against gender-based violence.
In the history of ChegereSecondary School in Apac district, girls had never taken up top and influential leadership positions such as those of head prefect, academic prefect and chairperson of the Uganda National Students Association (UNSA). These have always been perceived as positions for the bright students, who are taken to be the boys.
However, after the ACFODE training, sensitisationand awareness-raising on gender equality and the promotion of positive socio-cultural practices in the school and communities, girls gained the confidence to take up leadership positions, with the support of their teachers. Through the awareness-creation that ACFODE conducted on different socio-cultural practices, girls were able to realise that they have equal potential with boys to take up leadership positions.
In October 2014, Mercy Akello, a 16-year-old Senior Three student, contested the position of chairperson of UNSA against three boys and she emerged the winner.
Mercy attributed her success to the confidence created in her through the ACFODE project, which also changed the perception among students that girls were incapable of being good leaders. As a result, Mercy Akello has used her position to lobby for the construction of toilets for girls. As she remarked, ‘ACFODE changed our perception of thinking that girls are incapable of being leaders. Through my leadership, I have lobbied for the construction of new toilets for girls since the old ones were almost filled up and more so they were located in an open space that made it very difficult for girls to ease themselves for fear of being seen by boys.’
Mercy Akello during the interview